Yevonde: Life and Colour

This is a historic exhibition. It is no longer available to visit and this page is only retained as a record of the previous event. For current and future exhibitions, visit our What's On page.

A new exhibition showcasing the ground-breaking work of 20th century British photographer Yevonde.

A woman holding a mask on a pale background


Until 20 April 2024 (historic exhibition)


A new exhibition showcasing the ground-breaking work of 20th century British photographer Yevonde will be shown at the Laing Art Gallery. Yevonde: Life and Colour was organised by the National Portrait Gallery, London.

Yevonde Middleton, also known as Madame Yevonde or simply Yevonde (1893-1975), was a London-based photographer whose work focused on portraits and still lives. She was introduced to photography through her involvement with the suffragette cause and she was committed to colour photography when it was not considered a serious artistic medium. Yevonde’s work often integrated elements of Surrealist iconography, humorous still life compositions, and models in tableaux.  

This exhibition is the largest ever showcase of the artist’s work with over 150 works, including 25 newly discovered photographs. Yevonde was a pioneer of colour photography in the 1930s and is known for her portraits, commercial commissioned work, and still lives, which she produced throughout her sixty-year career. Her portraits include some of the most famous faces of the time, including George Bernard Shaw, Vivien Leigh, John Gielgud, and Princess Alexandra. Her breadth of work and use of colour technique, including her experimentation with solarisation and the Vivex colour process, marks her as a trailblazer in the history of British portrait photography. She was also the first person in Britain to exhibit colour photographs.  

Image credit: Mask (Rosemary Chance) by Yevonde (1938, printed 2022-3), purchased with support from the Portrait Fund, 2021 © National Portrait Gallery, London